Along with spring practice, one of the annual rites this time of year is suspensions from said practice for various off-field issues.
USF is the latest program to pull the trigger on the non-punitive punitive measure, announcing that three players have been indefinitely suspended by new head coach Willie Taggart. The trio consists of wide receivers Terrence Mitchell and Chris Dunkley, along with running back Bradley Battles.
Taggart said each of the players will have the opportunity to return to the team, but will first have to prove they deserve something that’s a right and not a privilege.
“They could be back. They have to do something, do what it takes to get back out there,” Taggart said by way of Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times. “They can be back. They’re not just going to get on this team. You don’t just get on this team any kind of way. They have to make sure they’re doing their part to be on this football team.”
Mitchell last season finished second on the Bulls in receptions (31) and receiving yards (414). Auman notes, however, that the new coaching staff had already decided to move Mitchell to cornerback. The fact that Mitchell will likely miss most if not all of spring practice will certainly hinder his transition to the defensive side of the ball.
Dunkley transferred to USF from Florida in May of 2011 and sat out that season to satisfy NCAA rules. In September of last year, Dunkley, who played in the first five games in 2012, was charged domestic violence in late September and was suspended from the program a day later. It’s unclear if his latest suspension is merely a continuation of the first one or is the result of a new incident.
Each of the past two seasons, Battles has missed game-time due to suspensions.
Not surprisingly, the rise of Jalen Hurts has led to some turnover in Alabama’s quarterback room.
Citing unnamed sources, al.com is reporting that Blake Barnett has left the Tide football program and is expected to transfer. Thus far, the school has declined to address Barnett’s status with the team moving forward.
Barnett started the season opener against USC but lasted all of two series before being replaced by the true freshman Hurts. In his three starts since, all wins for the top-ranked Tide, Hurts has completed nearly 64 percent of his passes for 609 yards and three touchdowns. Most importantly, he hasn’t throw an interception, although he did toss one in relief of Barnett.
A five-star 2015 recruit, Barnett was rated as the No. 2 pro-style quarterback in the country and the No. 21 player overall on 247sports.com’s composite board. The 6-5, 200-pounder took a redshirt as a true freshman.
Hurts also adds an extra dimension in the running game as he’s second on the team with 251 yards rushing and tied for the lead with three rushing touchdowns.
Should Barnett move on to another FBS program, he’d likely have to sit out the 2017 season. He’d then have two years of eligibility remaining beginning in 2018.
With Barnett presumably gone, the Tide would likely turn to Cooper Bateman, who served as Jake Coker‘s primary backup last season and started one game, as Hurts’ primary backup.
A rather serious-sounding situation is the latest to trigger a resetting of the “Days Without An Arrest” ticker.
According to the Lafayette Journal & Courier, Martesse Patterson was arrested Wednesday and charged with one count of battery resulting in serious bodily injury. That charge is a felony.
Even more noteworthy is the fact that the charge stems from an altercation with a former teammate, ex-Boilermaker walk-on Alex Hilger. From the Journal & Courier:
Hilger alleged that on Sept. 7, Patterson entered Hilger’s room at their residence in the 800 block of Hayes Street in West Lafayette “to borrow some property.” Hilger told Patterson he was not allowed to borrow the property, but Patterson took it anyway and returned to his room.
According to the affidavit, when Hilger approached Patterson to retrieve his possession, Patterson punched him in the face. Hilger sought treatment at Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis after sustaining a broken jaw requiring a two-day hospital stay. The affidavit cites medical records showing Hilger suffered a “displaced fracture of the left mandible and a non-displaced fracture of the right mandible.
Hilger, who played in 12 games last season but is not a member of the team this year, obtained a no-contact order against Patterson, who admitted to police that he both took the property and punched Hilger.
Darrell Hazell is aware of the situation, with a statement saying that the head coach “respects that there is a legal process that he will allow to evolve before further commenting.”
Patterson started the first two games of the season before being demoted for what Hazell described as a “personal matter.” The demotion came shortly after the incident that led to the charge.
Nearly two months after his tragic passing, a cause of death for Zach Hemmila has been confirmed.
Based on the autopsy report filed by the Pima County Sheriff’s Office, the Arizona Republic is reporting that the 22-year-old Hemmila’s death was the result of the combined toxic effects of two different prescription drugs. The two drugs, the Republic noted, were oxymorphone, an opiate painkiller, and alprazolam, an anxiety medication.
From the newspaper’s report:
Chewing tobacco was found in Hemmila’s mouth, according to the autopsy report. No intact pills were discovered in his gastrointestinal system. His lungs were “markedly congested,” per the report.
Hemmila passed away either very late on the night of Aug. 7 or early in the morning Aug. 8. A cousin discovered Hemmila’s body at the Arizona offensive lineman’s residence.
His death has officially been ruled an accident.
“Arizona Athletics continues to mourn the passing of Zach Hemmila,” a statement from the university said in response to the report. “We will honor the family’s request for privacy and support them in any way we can.”
Hemmila started six games last season. He was slated to start at center for the Wildcats this season.
The Wildcats will continue to wear a sticker the No. 65 to honor Hemmila for the remainder of the season.
LSU received some good news and not so good news ahead of its first game without Les Miles on the sidelines in more than a decade.
On the latter news front, star running back Leonard Fournette is listed as a game-day decision for Saturday’s contest against Missouri because of a lingering ankle issue. The All-American initially injured the ankle during a mid-August summer camp practice; then aggravated it against Wisconsin in the opener; sat out the Week 2 game against an FCS foe; and then aggravated it again in Week 4 against Auburn.
After leading the country in yards per game last season with nearly 163 yards per game, Fournette is currently 10th at 128.7. That total still tops the SEC.
On a more positive tip for the Tigers, interim head coach Ed Orgeron confirmed that starting defensive lineman Davon Godchaux has been reinstated to the program and will be permitted to practice with his teammates. Whether he plays this Saturday remains to be seen. Godchaux had been arrested on a pair of charges stemming from a domestic incident over the weekend, but the prosecutor in the case announced Tuesday that he would not be filing formal charges.
Godchaux has started all four games this season (26 in his career) and is fifth on the team in tackles.